A Review of the Pharmacoeconomics of Pharmaceutical Care
Richard J. Plumridge
Richard E. Wojnar-Horton
Numerous studies have demonstrated that the therapeutic use of drugs results in adverse outcomes and contributes to high rates of morbidity and mortality. The causes of drug-related problems are multifactorial and their assessment has been based on factors such as inappropriate prescribing, inappropriate delivery, inappropriate patient behaviour, patient idiosyncrasy and inappropriate monitoring. The cost in the ambulatory setting has been estimated to exceed total prescription pharmaceutical use. Pharmaceutical care is defined as the responsible provision of drug therapy for the purpose of achieving definite outcomes that improve a patient's quality of life. It describes the process through which a pharmacist cooperates with a patient and other healthcare professionals in designing, implementing and monitoring a therapeutic plan that will produce specific therapeutic outcomes for the patient. This article evaluates published studies related to the economic analysis of pharmaceutical care in enhancing the value of pharmaceuticals. While numerous descriptive articles exist, our review found no studies which met accepted pharmacoeconomic criteria. A small number of studies measured process variables and/or quality of life, but only one considered costs. Barriers to optimising the economic value of pharmaceutical care were also explored. Common methodological shortcomings indicated a need for improvement in future studies. There is little published research to date which demonstrates the pharmacoeconomic benefits of pharmaceutical care. Evidence does exist that clinical pharmacy services have positive economic benefits, and it is this evidence that, at present, supports the assertion that pharmaceutical care has potential to increase the value of pharmaceuticals in society by minimising drug-related morbidity and mortality. Thus, well conducted research is required to determine the economic impact of pharmaceutical care.
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